Group Selection

Posted by Beetle B. on Fri 04 November 2016

Group Selection: If a trait benefits the group against other groups, but not the individual against other individuals in the same group, then can those traits be passed on?

In the 1970’s, evolutionists declared this as heresy. One criticism was that he who is more willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of the group is less likely to procreate. This is a variant the free rider problem. He benefited from the group, but did not actively promote the group by having children.

Darwin had an explanation for group selection, but it was overused and abused.

Bees/wasps share in common with humans:

  • A fondness to defend themselves
  • Offspring that are defenseless
  • Territories that are constantly under attack

Both developed mechanisms for division of labor resulting in cooperation and not competing between each other (suppressing selfishness). The development of cities and forts was the next step.

Shared intentionality is the ability to share intentions, which allows for constructive cooperation.

  • Chimpanzees do not do this
  • Predates language (perhaps language is the result of this)?

Group selection in hens who lay more eggs and for foxes who are friendlier to humans seems to have worked, and did not require too many generations. In hens, in fact, the traits were opposite to those you’d get if you did individual selection. Generally, hens who lay a lot are aggressive and kill other hens in the coop.

It was believed that there has been little change in the human genome in the last 50000 years due to social pressures exceeding natural pressures. However, analyses on the Human Genome Project data shows the opposite. It accelerated, reaching a peak in the Holocene Era.

tags : trm, morality, Haidt